Prospects for the Majors in 2013

By Ian Hudson
Debby Wong-US Presswire

Phil Mickelson (pictured) has won the US Masters three times in his career and but for one poor hole at the start of the final round in 2012 that tally would be four. His most recent win at Augusta was in 2010 when his score of 18 under was the lowest for 13 years.

Mickelson has had plenty of opportunities to win his national Open but now turned 40 the chances of him winning now are receding specially in light of the mental and physical demands associated with competing in the second major of the season.

The left hander has not really taken to links golf so his record in the British Open is moderate to say the least. His best opportunity was at Sandwich in 2011 where he came well of the pace to get within two shots of Darren Clarke before faltering on the back nine.

As Lee Westwood approached his 40th birthday he made some significant changes to his lifestyle and professional arrangements. He relocated his family to the United States and although he still has a base in England he will not be playing in Britain until May.

Westwood has been a regular in major championships since 1995. In total he has contested 59 Grand Slam tournaments and missed the cut just sixteen times. He has finished in the top ten in 15 majors, including twice in 2012 and six times in the last three years, representing a 50% top 10 success rate over that spell.

Westwood was tied fourth after the first three rounds of the 2012 US Open. He was just three shots behind joint leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell but a three over par final round meant he finished tied 10th. Any round under par would have qualified Westwood for a playoff at least.

In the context of winning a major championship in general and specifically the British Open, Ian Poulter’s recent achievements mow make him a leading contender in the Grand Slam tournaments. He has played in 40 majors to date and missed just five cuts.

Poulter’s six top 10 finishes in majors include two in the British Open. His best chance came at Birkdale in 2008 when he played flawless golf in difficult conditions on the last day. On that occasion Padraig Harrington broke par over the difficult finishing stretch of four holes to win his second Open.

A lack of course form could be a concern for backers of Poulter. As a young professional he did play at Muirfield in 2002, making the cut without getting in contention. However, Poulter has a game well suited to the demands of Muirfield that will be presented in July.

Jason Dufner lost in the play-off with Keegan Bradley at the US PGA Championship in 2011. He has since taken his game to a new level and now has the experience and confidence to go one better at Oak Hill in August.

The host East Course will put a premium on accuracy over distance. Players that can consistently find the fairways and hit the greens in the correct number of shots will have an advantage. The course is short by modern standards which means the bombers will not have an edge.

The greens at Oak Hill are below average in size and that puts a premium on consistently hitting them in the conventional number of shots. Dufner’s scrambling skills will be an important part of his profile. Even the most accurate players will be facing shots from off the green and will need to pitch and putt to avoid bogey.

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